Growing fast is not the time to outgrow your contracts.
Most of the time when I read an article, blog, newsletter or what-have-you on the subject of fast-growing companies — entrepreneurial or otherwise — the lists of challenges and issues they face and what to focus on are all generally the same: Cash flow, HR, communication, management vision, etc. Very rarely, if ever, does one of those lists mention contracts or CLM. Now that’s an issue.
Find a CLM that’s as agile as your organization.
Companies become high-growth for any number of reasons — an innovative new product, scoring a big customer, securing significant funding, etc. Whatever the reason, when it happens an agile strategy and approach (and mindset) are requisite for truly capitalizing on the possibilities.
According to the International Association for Contract & Commercial Management (IACCM),
Agile has become more prevalent among companies wishing to make swift, iterative teamwork central to their change efforts because-if done correctly-it can help people work more efficiently, delivering successful products and creating much more value.“
While this is not a blog just about agility, it is a critical contract management attribute considering the types of scenarios that high-growth companies face. For instance:
- A rapid increase in customers – When you’re a sales organization, signing new business is a reason to celebrate. Unless your contract process is bottlenecking everything to a crawl.
- Starting to do business internationally – If your contract management process isn’t optimized for your home market, the flaws will magnify exponentially once you go over borders. Different rules, cultures, legal systems, expectations and such regarding contracts will put a real damper on your expansion unless your process is down solid.
- Moving to new premises or opening new locations – Being ready when the time comes to increase your office or facility footprint can be a distinct advantage, especially in competitive areas. When that perfect spot opens up, the last thing you need is a pokey contract to slam the door in your face.
- Embarking on a full-time talent search – As we said, unbridled growth can be a wonderful thing, unless the organization is growing too fast to find qualified employees. When you do find them, a frictionless onboarding procedure will help ensure they become a valuable member of your team, and not the competition’s.
Not an exhaustive list by any means, but just to illustrate how expansion can happen so fast at high-growth companies that systems and processes like CLM can get outpaced (and outdated), making it increasingly difficult for the business to move efficiently and effectively.
A CLM Checklist for High-Growth Companies should include:
Agility, for staying nimble so you can leverage opportunities as they happen (or that you make happen). Along with having an expansive set of features that work the way your organization does, a CLM needs to be really easy to use — after all, in high-growth mode you don’t always have the luxury of time for a steep learning curve.
Scalability, because high growth typically means expansion — people, facilities, markets — and you want to be confident your CLM won’t hold you back.
Configurability, so that as your processes and procedures shift and morph your contract workflow and management can easily be optimized to keep everything streamlined.
Collaboration, since contracts aren’t going to write, negotiate, approve or revise themselves. When an organization is growing fast, there’s no time (or reason) to have silos, especially when contracts involve onboarding third parties, new customers or additional talent. The technology should foster inclusion, not negate it, and that means externally as well as internally.
Data integration, because when it comes to contracts, accuracy counts — especially when time is of the essence and you’re trying to move quickly. When your CLM is integrated across your organization and other systems, you not only have more accurate documents, but much more capability to leverage them for better decision making. This enterprise approach benefits every function, from sourcing to procurement, finance, AP, sales and IT, as well.
Process automation, which frees up people from mundane manual inputs so they can focus on adding strategic value to help sustain growth. To paraphrase the IACCM quote above, technology done correctly can be one of the best contract investments a company can make. The right templates, clauses, data fields, etc., all served up automatically along with a proscribed workflow that keeps it all moving the right way at the right time.